Sunday, November 30, 2014

Terror in Nigeria

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

A set of bombs and a hail of machine gunfire killed at least 120 and wounded 270 people in Kano, Nigeria's second largest city.

The bombs and the bullets exploded in the central mosque right in the middle of the city. The people had gathered to hear the Imam speak.

All signs suggest that the attack was the work of Boko Haram. The attack was very similar to many others that have struck the area since September - all of them perpetrated by Boko Haram.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan called on people to unite and fight the terrorists.

He said: "continue to take every step to put an end to the reprehensible acts of all groups and persons involved in acts of terrorism."

He asked the people of Nigeria: "to remain united to confront the common enemy."

Boko Haram has terrified the people of Nigeria. The only way to defeat the terror of Boko Haram is for the masses to stand up against Boko Haram. 

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Friday, November 28, 2014

ISIS Shuts Off Phones

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Mosul is a city of 2 million people. It is the second largest city in Iraq. And Mosul is controlled by ISIS.

This week ISIS turned off all cell phone and telephone service in Mosul. Can you imagine a city without phones in November of 2014?

What was the ISIS rational for this decision? Most people would probably say it was the nefarious influence of the web on smart phones. NO!!!

ISIS believes that the people of Mosul were informing on their activities to members of the Iraqi army. And ISIS believes that the information was being used to attack ISIS targets. So the best option to stymie the flow of information was to cut off the source --- the phone.

Interestingly, the internet system in Mosul is still up and running. That system uses a different network and has not been affected. I would guess that the ISIS will figure that out pretty soon and that internet will soon be turned off too.

And when that happens, the city of Mosul will really be closed down, shut off, out of contact, groping around in the dark.

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Israel Proposal to Fight Terror

By Micah Halpern

I've Been Thinking:

A proposal for a bill to fight terror is in the works in Israel. The bill was developed by Likud member Yair Levin at the request of the Prime Minister.

The bill contains eight significant points. Some of those points will almost certainly be struck down by the Supreme Court for violating the "basic law." There will be some conditions within the bill that apply only to those in the West Banks - that comes under
the Army Code of Law and is determined using military and security guidelines.

It is not yet a perfect bill, but it is certainly a very good start.

Here are the highlights of the plan:

Anyone caught involved in acts of terror or in supporting terror will lose their Israeli citizenship or Palestinian Authority residency.

After completing a prison term, those people will be deported.

Terrorists will not receive a funeral.

There will be no transfer of the body of a terrorist and the body will be buried in an unknown location.

Houses of terrorists will be destroyed within 24 hours.

Anyone caught throwing stones or firebombs, etc. will remain remanded until trial. Illegal protests include the waving of enemy flags. Anyone waving the Palestinian flag will be arrested. Anyone participating in illegal protests will lose their social benefits and driver̢۪s license for 10 years.

Family members of terrorists who supported the acts of terror will lose their citizenship and will be deported to Gaza. That support includes social media and internet.

Businesses that print posters and materials that support terror will be closed.

Some of these items are anti-democratic in nature and will never pass the Knesset. But others will.
The Supreme Court of Israel will certainly weigh in heavily on the material contained in this bill. 

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

ISIS Earned $45 Mill in Ransom

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

The United Nations Security Council Committee on Counter Terrorism was briefed yesterday.

The most salient point to come out of the regular briefing was that
over the past year, ISIS has earned $45 million in ransom.

The amount is baffling. ISIS has made kidnapping for ransom a very good industry.

In the West, especially in America, we see photos and video of the kidnappings and the beheadings - and we are appalled. What everyone must understand, however, is that almost everything we know about what transpires in ISIS captivity and almost everything we know about the ISIS victims comes from those hostages who have been freed by ransom. The dead cannot talk.

US policy on ransom will shock many people. It is not something the Administration advertises. It is their big secret.

The United States refuses to pay ransoms and has intimidated the families of hostages not to pay. The United States government has even threatened to prosecute families who wanted to raise money to ransom their loved ones. 

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Erdogan Puts Foot in Mouth

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Should I write a column about Turkish President Erdogan or should I just collect a list of his most ridiculous comments? What a dilemma!

For example:
Remember last week Erdogan said that it was Muslims who discovered America and not Columbus? Well, yesterday Erdogan said that women and men are not equal. He said that women, especially feminists, cannot possibly understand the special role women have in it,

They should be mothers.
Erdogan said, "You cannot put women and men on an equal footing." He said, "It is against nature. They were created differently. Their nature is different. Their constitution is different." Erdogan continued,

"Motherhood is the highest position ... You cannot explain this to feminists. They don't accept motherhood.

They have no such concern."

Earlier this year he said that women should have at least three children.
Erdogan is a deeply religious Muslim and the party he created is an Islamic party. He is clearly trying to pull back from the great democratic freedoms that have enveloped Turkey over the years.
Every time Erdogan opens his mouth to speak about women his anti-women sentiments become more pronounced -- and more ridiculous. 

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Iran Deal: No Plan B

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

The deadline for decisions about Iran and nuclear talks is upon us. Obviously, no agreement has been reached.

An extension will be arranged.

Iran and the West have different sets of objectives. The West very much wants the agreement.
But Iran is not about to compromise on two basic issues.

Iran does not want to dismantle their 10,000 operational centrifuges and scale back the 9,000 more that are nearly operational. They want all 19,000.

And Iran wants a quick removal of sanctions - they will not even consider the option of a ten year, slow removal, process during which the international community checks and verifies that they continue to live by the agreement.

The United States has already shown flexibility on the numbers of centrifuges. But 19,000 is way too many. And the US will not immediately lift the sanctions.

Bottom line: neither party trusts the other.

But trust is not the biggest problem. The biggest problem is that the United States has no "Plan B".

The United States has no backup plan other than to enlist the help of China and Russia. And while it is true that China and Russia are not in favor of a nuclear Iran, neither are they keen on going to the mat on this issue - especially because they would be doing the bidding of the United States.

This is a real problem. 

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Germany Says Dialogue is the Only Way

By Micah Halpern

I've Been Thinking:

The move to recognize Palestine has been dizzying. Parliament after parliament, country after country, has been voting in support of Palestinian state recognition.

But Germany has said no.

On Friday German Chancellor Merkel announced, rather emphatically, that Germany supports a two-state solution and "we see how difficult that is, so we also believe that unilateral recognition of the Palestinian state won't move us forward."

Merkel explained that the two sides look distant right now and dialogue is not immediately on the horizon. She said "that appears very difficult in the current conditions."

She continued saying that none the less it should be clear - the only way to create a Palestinian state is through dialogue and not through fiat and votes in parliaments around the world.

Merkel is correct. A Palestinian state will only emerge through an agreement with Israel. Because, in the end, a Palestinian state can not exist without the support of Israel.

I just wish everyone else understood what Merkel understands. 

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Hamas Plot To Murder Israelis

By Micah Halpern 
I've Been Thinking:

It should come as no surprise that Hamas wants to attack Israel and part of that plan would absolutely include assassinating Israeli leaders. The more prominent the leader, better. The more vocally anti-Arab the leader, the better.

Israeli intelligence has successfully arrested a Hamas cell for plotting the assassination of Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman.

The plan was extremely detailed. The most important dimension of the plan focused on the essential fact that Lieberman lived in Nokdim, a settlement in the Gush Etzion area. Lieberman traveled through the West Bank at least twice a day.

The nature of the roads and the topography of the West Bank provided an important element of the perfect assassination plot. The Hamas cell procured RPG's (Rocket Propelled Grenades) which they planned on sitting atop a hill in order to target the minister as he drove thru the area en route to Jerusalem. Lieberman is the only minister who lives in the West Bank.
Lieberman would be a prize target. Thankfully the cell was discovered. 

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

How To Stop Lone Wolf

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

People have been declaring that it is impossible to defend against the lone wolf terrorist. Wrong ... it just takes different tools.

The best tool is to change the atmosphere and create a sense of trust and economic hope. It is harder than it sounds, but it is essential. When political and economic issues improve there will be less interest in terror.

This does not happen overnight.

Almost all these lone wolves are connected both religiously and politically. That nexus needs to be identified, it needs to be monitored on the web and monitored through real intel.

Israel also needs to increase the number of agents working in those communities from which the terrorist come. Lone wolves do not come ex nihilo, they come from an environment rich and saturated in this hatred.
Identify the environments, monitor them and then shut them down.

Arrest agitators and arrest leaders who preach and write and support terror. Stop local religious and political leaders who inspire the terrorists.

Jewish extremists need to be reined in too. Jewish extremists need to act within the limits of the law and not step outside the law.

Strengthening and utilizing local Jewish community volunteer resources and the civil guard will help increase the numbers of alert trained personnel to assist in protecting their communities.

Finally, there needs to be an increased number of soldiers and police in locations that are high risk and in communities that foment terror - that is another way to deter terrorists, even lone wolf terrorists. 

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

This Terror was a Game Changer

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

The terror attack in Jerusalem yesterday is a game changer, it is an absolute watershed.

Let me explain why: The attack took place in a synagogue -- no one, not even the most secular person, can understand how Palestinians could attack Jews in the act of prayer. Americans, especially US leadership, were shocked. Even Muslim leadership in certain parts of the world were stunned that the terrorists chose to murder people in the act of prayer.

The attack place in Jerusalem where Israel is in charge of security - not the Palestinian Authority.

The two terrorists who perpetrated this attack came from within
Jerusalem. They were from a Jerusalem that, in 1967, was offered

Israeli citizenship. Rather than citizenship the villagers chose to become permanent residents. People ask how the terrorists were able to get in to Jerusalem. They did not have to get in, they were in, these terrorists lived in Jerusalem.

In the aftermath, Palestinian Incitement continues. Even as Abbas condemned the attack, he justified the attack by giving it context. Abbas explained that it is because of the occupation and Israeli disrespect of Al Aksa that the attack was perpetrated.

This attack was not spontaneous. It was planned. The terrorists knew the workings and timing of the synagogue. A huge amount of preparation went into this attack.

Was not a single lone wolf at least 2 were involved if not more.

The many of victims were dual citizens - 3 were Americans and one from Great Britain.

Was not on the seam of the city between Arab and Jewish sides of Jerusalem. 

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

ISIS Butchers Innocents

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

ISIS has murdered well over 1400 people, all non-combatants. Thousands have been killed in battle.

This group of 1400 victims were beheaded, shot in the back, had their throats or were stoned. Brutal mass murders, most of them carried out in towns after ISIS members entered the area, gathered the relatives of opposing fighters - and butchered them.

It is impossible for the Western mind to comprehend how a military force can sponsor the murder of so many civilians. It is all part of the ISIS master plan. In order to reduce military opposition, ISIS intimidates the masses. If you challenge ISIS and lose, ISIS will search out you and your family and publicly murder you all.

That alone is enough to convince would-be opponents not to challenge ISIS. 

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Palestinian Music Video - Calls To Destroy Israel

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

There are several effective forms of mass media today - a handful are gripping.

Video shorts, 30 seconds to 4 minutes long, sound, music, stills and motion shots blend to create a message. Some of the messages go viral.

Over the summer Palestinians produced a short music video called: "up, hit, bomb, do terrorist acts."

The video turned into a hit. It glorified terror. The production was gritty. It was performed in broken Hebrew with Hebrew and Arabic subtitles. The Arabic "B" sound replaced the "P" sound. Most Arabs cannot say the "P" sound and there is no hard "P" in the Arabic.

The same group came out with another video short. Also in Hebrew, this one was far better performed and produced. See for yourself at:,7340,L-4591242,00.html

This video talks about destroying Israel by way of the new Intifada. The producers show a great deal of knowledge about the Israeli army and Israeli history. It is graphic and it is powerful.

Worst of all, this music video proclaims - through words and music - that every Arab participate in the fight to defeat Israelis and destroy Israel. 

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Muslims DID NOT Discover America!!

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Absurd and ridiculous are the first two words that came to mind when I read that Turkish leader Erdogan addressed a conference of Muslims from Latin America and informed the group that Muslims discovered
America - not Columbus, and that Columbus actually wrote that in his diaries.

"Contacts between Latin America and Islam date back to the 12th century. Muslims discovered America in 1178, not Christopher Columbus."
"Muslim sailors arrived in America from 1178. Columbus mentioned the existence of a mosque on a hill on the Cuban coast."
"I would like to talk about it to my Cuban brothers. A mosque would go perfectly on the hill today," the Turkish leader said.

Erdogan is wrong. The quote he gave is not from Columbus or from his diary - it is from Bartoleme de Casa who rewrote the ship logs from his own point of view and through his own eyes. And the actual quote goes: "has a hill on its summit like a graceful mosque."

De Casa was describing what they called San Salvador. He was hardly describing a mosque on the hill. Actually, quite the opposite!

The irony of it all is that de Casa was most probably a converso - he was from a Jewish family that had been forcibly converted to Christianity.


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Saturday, November 15, 2014

ISIS Minting Money

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

ISIS, or as they call themselves the Islamic State, announced yesterday that they are beginning to mint their own money.

ISIS coins are minted out of gold, silver and cooper. According to the announcement, the purchasing strength of the money would be the weight of the metal. In other words - the market value of gold would be the weight of the gold piece. The same for the silver and cooper coins.

All the coins read: Islamic State/A Caliphate Based on the Doctrine of the Prophet.

One coin is a map of the world, symbolizing how Islam will soon conquer the world.

One coin has a sword and shield, symbolizing jihad.

One coin has the image of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. The point of this coin is the connection between the Islamic State and grand Arab and Muslim issues and the Palestinian quest.

As they say, money talks! 

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Friday, November 14, 2014

ISIS & Al Qaeda Unite

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

There had been rumors about ISIS and al Qaeda agreeing to put their differences aside and join forces to fight their common enemies.

So I was not surprised yesterday when AP reported, in a tiny little release, that ISIS and al Qaeda of Syria are now working together.

This puts another huge obstacle in the way of the US led coalition as it tries to fight ISIS and al Qaeda. The most important problem that emerges as a result of the unification of ISIS and al Qaeda forces is that they will now totally intimidate, decimate or even annihilate any moderate forces within Syria. Moderates will go into hiding and never be found.

The United States had been counting on those moderates and planned to arm and even train them. When ISIS and al Qaeda were warring factions there was a chance that the United States could put them under their wings. But if they unite, fear alone will paralyze all moderates.

As a united front, ISIS and al Qaeda can pool resources. That means that they can share money and share intel. It is a good match. ISIS has a lot of money and less intel. Al Qaeda has more intel and less money. It also means sharing weapons and training each another on new weapons.

This is only bad. Now add to the mix the CNN report that President Obama charged his senior analysts with figuring out how to fight ISIS and oust Assad. According to the report Obama believes that defeating ISIS will require toppling Assad.

The situation is looking very grim. Ousting Assad and fighting ISIS and al Qaeda are entirely different missions. The unification of al Qaeda and ISIS will certainly fill any power vacuum that may be - created especially if Assad is ousted.

This is a mess and the White House is making it even messier. 

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

World Wide Intifada

By Micah Halpern

I've Been Thinking:

The riots and the protests, the rocks and the Molotov cocktails, the car attacks and the van attacks - they are the weapons Palestinians are using in confrontations with Israel.

And they are extremely dangerous.

Around the world Palestinians and their allies are also attacking Israel. The attacks are sometimes physical, but most often and far more dangerous are the attacks on college campuses and in the media.

There are protests and rallies shouting death to Israel. There is an overall rejection of Israel. There is a tone that Israel is wrong and evil. In most of these places, the case for Israel is at best faint, more often it is non- existent.

Youth, especially campus youth, are being poisoned by this terrible anti-Israel tone. The consequences are huge. An erosion of support for Israel among the youth of today - those who will become the leaders of the future, is a certainty. 

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

New Intifada and ISIS

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

It is a strange and unusual blend. I am talking about the combination of motivations that roll into the violence/riots/unrest between Israel and the Palestinians.

Previous Intifadas were mostly motivated by politics. After that Palestinian frustrations grew out of political dead ends. And of course in the background there were religious tones. This unrest is different.

This unrest has strong political issues. But it is also fueled by strong feelings of revenge. And finally religion is playing a role.

One part of the religious push is a conspiracy theory that Israel wants to take over and destroy al Aksa and the Temple Mount. The second is ISIS. The idea is to get rid of any non believer.

Yesterday a 17 year old boy was arrested in Jerusalem with a large knife hidden in the lining of his pants. After he was arrested he shouted at the police "ISIS and Hamas will take care of all of you."

Religious issue are becoming even more significant. This Intifada is taking on a character of its own.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Abbas Says Will Move Arafat to Jerusalem

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday was the tenth anniversary of the death of Yasser Arafat.

Two very significant things happened yesterday. Hamas in Gaza cancelled a rally in honor of Arafat saying that they could not protect attending participants. There has not been ceremony since 2007.

Second, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced that he is planning to transfer the shrine of Arafat from Ramallah to Jerusalem. The announcement was made in MA'AN the official Palestinian media outlet.

Making such an announcement is an invitation to the Palestinians masses to take to the streets to riot in Jerusalem. This announcement by Abbas about Arafat on such a day is a call for Palestinians to fight in Jerusalem. 

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Monday, November 10, 2014

Intifada or Not

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
They are calling it the "Silent Intifada." In Arabic, some are referring to it as the "Automobile Intifada."

It is certainly a period of rioting and unrest. And over the past few weeks the level and intensity of the violence has waxed and waned.

The word "Intifada" is a hard word to translate. Most people just say, uprising, resistance or rebellion. The root in Arabic actually means to shake off, even to shake up, to awaken and, to get them to stand up.

The word "Intifada" was first used in 1965 to describe politics in Bahrain when leftists rose up against British colonial power. In 1970 the term was used again as the "Zemla Intifada" against the Spanish in the Sahara.

"Intifada" became best known as a term during what is now called the First Palestinian Intifada which lasted from 1987-1993. And then it resurfaced during the Second Palestinian Intifada from 2000- 2005.
And now - the Silent Intifada. This Intifada gets its name because there is no organized controlling power. The two previous

Palestinian Intifadas were well organized and perpetrated by trained leaders and organizers.

While this Intifada is certainly being egged on by leaders, there is no Tanzim identifying targets and orchestrating demonstrations. This Intifada thrives on spontaneity. It can spin out of control or it can fizzle out at any moment. Or it can linger for a long time creating a low level, constant, terror and rock threat.

Interestingly, the most powerful force in a spontaneous riot is Mother Nature. When it rains or is cold outside, fewer people participate. The good news here is that the region is in the rainy season and it is getting darker earlier. I would guess that the weather will put a damper on this Silent Intifada.

That is of course unless it gets organized. 

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Sunday, November 9, 2014

US Hits ISIS w Serious Blow

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

I cannot confirm this, but I think I have very good news to report for the United States and for the West and for democracy.

One of the US led airstrikes on Saturday hit an ISIS convoy. Rumor is that Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, was in the convoy and was seriously wounded. Other ISIS leaders were also in the convoy - some were killed and some were badly wounded.

The strike took place in Anbar province. The people of Anbar are the source of most of the info.

This could be the critical blow to ISIS. ISIS needs charismatic leaders and they will have a very difficult time reorganizing if these rumors are true. 

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Saturday, November 8, 2014

More Conflict in Jerusalem

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

More violence in Jerusalem. Riot erupted as the second Jewish victim of Wednesday's terror attack, Shlomo Baadani, was buried. Not Jewish riots - Arab riots.

At Baadani's funeral Sepharadi Chief Rabbi Yitzak Yosef spoke and told people to stop going up to the Temple Mount. "We need to stop this, only then will the people of Israel's blood not be spilt."

Rabbi Yosef demanded that people listen and not ascend and visit the holy site. He said that stepping in the wrong place on the Mount is a sin that is punishable by death. He said: "It's inconceivable that b-rate rabbis will argue with Israel's most prominent and prestigious rabbis."

This is not a new argument. The father of the present chief rabbi, Rabbi Ovadiah Yossef, was also Sephardic chief rabbi. His counterpart, Aschkenazi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren, was a major advocate of going up the Temple Mount and even wrote a very detailed book with dozens of maps describing exactly where one can and cannot step.

Rav Goren was hardly a b-rate rabbi.

There are serious questions about Jewish law and ascending the Temple Mount today. But they are hardily simple and mono-dimensional. That said, there is no doubt that the specter of Jews going up to the Temple Mount is explosive.

Since this conflict there are no groups or individuals permitted up --- only politicians and security personnel. And yet, the violence and rioting continues. 

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Friday, November 7, 2014

Orthodox Jews Say Don't Go to Temple Mt.

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

There are those trying to understand the nature and the cause of the rioting in Jerusalem. And there are those trying to cast blame.

One group says that Jews going to the Temple Mount is incendiary, just explosive. They may be correct.

The largest ultra religious paper in Israel, Yated Neeman ran an editorial telling Jews not to go to the Temple Mount and it criticized those who do go.

To quote the editorial, going up to the Temple Mount is like "throwing a match into an oil well which will bury the Middle East in smoking ashes."

The editorial blasted those Jews who want access to the Mount saying, "They are laying out a red carpet for terrorists which will only become redder with blood as the tensions are intensified. These [people] will not be satisfied until they leave behind them and their activities politically scorched earth, and when Jerusalem, which sits on a powder keg, burns with the fires of hatred."

They conclude that the Temple Mount should be officially off limits to Jews in order to maintain order. "The government of Israel must close the Temple Mount [to Jews]. It is not only a terrible security threat but more seriously an awful stumbling block for Jews, [who may violate] one of the most serious prohibitions."

The more serious prohibitions are laws and demarcations on the Temple Mount delineating exactly where only certain Jews were permitted in Temple times. Stepping in the wrong place is absolutely forbidden. 

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Abbas Calls The Terrorists Martyrs

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

The increased number of terror attacks in Israel is troubling - but it is not surprising.

Using a car as a weapon is not a new idea. Recently, a major Hamas leader made a statement in which he said, literally, that every

Palestinian with a car has a weapon. And he said those who do not use that weapon are cowards and are betraying and forsaking the Palestinian cause.

This is to be expected from Hamas and from Hamas supporters. Hamas wants to murder Jews and Israelis.
What troubles me most is not Hamas and the terrorists - I expect them to act and to speak in this way. They are, after all, self proclaimed mass murderers. What troubles me is the reaction of Abbas.

Abbas is the president of the Palestinian Authority. He is supposed to be a partner in peace, or at least, believe in basic rules of conflict.

Abbas wrote a letter to the family of last week's terrorist Mutaz Hijazi and called him a martyr. Hijazi is the man who shot Yehudah Glick four times in the middle of Jerusalem and then jumped on his motorcycle and drove off. Abbas wrote that Hijazi was a martyr and he will be sent to heaven.

And what do you think Abbas called the perpetrator of yesterday's terror attack, Ibrahim al Arki, who murdered one person and injured fourteen others? Abbas also called him a martyr.

Where are the leaders of the free world? Where are the Americans? Why has no one called Abbas on the table for these comments? These endorsements are carte blanch invitations to perpetrate terror.

The double standard is so blatant - the world is telling Palestinians that they can do no wrong. And that is not right. 

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Saudis Buy Weapons For Lebanon

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Lebanon is buying $3 billion worth of arms and weapons from France.

The weapons are being stockpiled in order to defend Lebanon - once known as the Switzerland of the
Middle East, from extremists ... from all kinds of extremists.

Lebanon is in need of real serious materials to assist them in defending their country. They need defense against ISIS, al Qaeda, Hezbollah and, in their minds, even against Israel.

But Lebanon does not have an extra $3 billion sitting around to procure weapons.

Saudi Arabia stepped up and plopped down the cash. Not a loan - the Saudis gave the Lebanese a gift. Saudi Arabia sees itself as the Protector of the Sunni World. Lebanon is caught in the middle of a series of major conflicts. Their biggest conflict is between Sunnis and Shiites.

Despite the current conflict with ISIS, the most dramatic issue confronting the Muslim world is the internal conflict between Sunnis and Shiites. Sunni Saudis want to insure that Lebanon is not toppled by Shiite Hezbollah. They want to make certain that neither ISIS nor al Qaeda move into Lebanon. 

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

US Supreme Court Hears Jerusalem Case

By Micah Halpern
 I've Been Thinking:

Menachem Zivotofsky is 12 years old. He was born in Jerusalem in 2002.

Yesterday the nine members of the US Supreme Court heard all about Menachem. His parents want the US passport of their son to read "Jerusalem, Israel" in the box designated for place of birth. As of now, all US citizens born in Jerusalem have simply the word "Jerusalem" in their passports. The box for country is blank.

In 1995 Congress passed a law clearly stating that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel. In 2002 Congress passed another law saying that the United States should move its embassy to Jerusalem and that US passports should read Jerusalem, Israel.
George Bush signed that law.

The US Administration and State Department argue that adding the word "Israel" in passports would undermine United States power and interests. Their legal argument is a constitutional one. They claim that foreign policy is determined by the president and that Congress has overstepped its bounds and that the law is unconstitutional.

The sixty minute arguments were on that issue alone. The case for the Zivotofsky family was eloquently presented by Alyza Lewin. It looks like the nine justices are split down the middle - the swing vote is Justice Anthony Kennedy. From his questions he seemed to truly be undecided.

Justice Elana Kagan paralleled this case to that of selective vanity license plates. Pro-Israel US citizens would be able to choose Jerusalem, Israel for their passports but pro-Palestine US citizens would not be able to have them say Jerusalem, Palestine.

It could go either way. In June the decision of the justices will be made public. 

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Monday, November 3, 2014

Hamas Blocks UN Aid To Gaza

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Hamas has been blocking the United Nations from supplying the people of Gaza with UN aid and services.

Hamas leadership is not pleased with the plan that the United Nations proposed in September, after the 50 day conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. Hamas expressed their reluctance then and now they are refusing to permit the UN to distribute badly needed resources.

Hamas has a reason. According to the UN plan, Hamas is sidelined in the revitalization and rebuilding of Gaza process. According to the UN plan, they are not the people distributing and/or receiving the goods.

That means that Hamas will be powerless and unable to exert control locally.

It also means that hundreds of tons of cement and other building supplies are just sitting behind fences and armed guards - unwanted and unused. The badly needed supplies have been there for more than a month. I expect that there will be no resolution to this standoff in the near future.

So close - and yet, so far away. 

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Sunday, November 2, 2014

Tensions in Jerusalem Could Cause World Conflict

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Tensions in Jerusalem are still high - but it appears that calm might yet prevail.
How and why tension rose and are slowly dropping is not a simple story. Let's just start with Wednesday.

On Wednesday night there was an attempted assassination of Yehudah Glick, an activist for Jewish access to the Temple Mount. The attack took place in the middle of Jerusalem.

On Thursday the Israeli government joined by the Israeli police determined that the attempted assassination had crossed a red line.

In response they decided to shut down the al Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount, the third most holy site in Islam. Palestinians and Arab and Muslim leaders interpreted the closing as an assault against all of Islam. Some called for a massive uprising. Jordan's king called it state terror.

On Friday Israel modified the closure of the mosque and al Aqsa was reopened. People aged 50 and over were permitted to enter and to pray. This is a common restriction in times of tension.

On Saturday nature intervened. It rained so there was little conflict, just a fire bomb thrown at police in Shuafat, just north of Jerusalem.

On Sunday the Israeli cabinet voted to increase the punishment for rock throwing to 20 years in prison. The Jordanian king said that the Jordanians would defend Muslim rights at the mosque. There was a massive rally of Jews in support of Yehudah Glick who is still in critical, but stable, condition. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said that he was continuing the famous status quo on the Temple Mount. He also called on all leaders to exercise calm. He instructed them not to stoke the flames of anger.

Actions taken and not taken over the next few days will determine if the region - or for that matter the world, will go into greater conflict.

Cool heads must prevail. 
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